Karel Roden – Juraj Thurzo
Outside the Czech Republic, Karel Roden is most known for his villainous and contemptible character roles opposite the hero in a number of high profile Hollywood movies. In early 2007 he can be seen in the super-natural thriller The Abandoned as Nicolai who finds he is not alone in confronting his own ghost on a derelict farm, in the worldwide release of Mr. Bean's Holiday, and as The Stranger in Summer Love, a surrealistic take on the western genre.
Like many children of communist rule in Czechoslovakia, Roden grew up watching unofficial copies of western-made films. However, his original career plans didn't include following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather – both actors. He graduated from the Comprehensive Art Secondary School for Ceramics, but quickly realized that the applied arts were not for him and entered the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.
While working steadily in Prague since his acting career began in 1984, Roden's decision to spend time in London in the late 90s opened the door to many of the roles for which he is now internationally recognized, including: Emil, the unrepenting criminal who settles his score with media-savy NPDY Detective Flemming (Robert DeNiro) by offering videotapes of his exploits to the sensationalist TV news programs in the psychological crime-thriller 15 Minutes; Carter Kounen, lawyer for a race of mutant-vampires seeking a suspicious truce with The Daywalker (Wesley Snipes) in Blade 2; Strucker, an evil kung-fu master in search of an ancient, powerful scroll protected by the Immortal Monk With No Name (Chow Yun-Fat) in the loose adaption of the underground martial arts comic book Bulletproof Monk; Russian agent Gretkov, part of a CIA operation gone bad forcing trained assasin Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) back into action in The Bourne Supremacy; Grigori Rasputin, Russian folklore's evil monk at the root of the forces confronting a demonic anti-hero (Ron Perlman) in the dark, supernatural adventure Hellboy - a second teaming with Bulletproof Monk director Guillermo del Torro; and the abusive step-father in a volatile mob-family matching wits with Chazz Palminteri's dirty cop in the fast-paced crime thriller Running Scared.
Roden's feature film career began almost simultaneous with his theatre work in 1984 as Honzy, a medical student in the 2nd part of a trilogy entitled How the poets are losing their illusions (Jak básníci přicházejí o iluze). A lighthearted, comic look at life through the lives of young university students, Roden's Honzy also appeared in the final installation of the trilogy, How poets are enjoying their lives (Jak básníkům chutná život). Other comic turns include Roden's Captian Tuma in Who's That Soldier (Copak je to za vojáka), a humoristic look at life as a soldier in the socialist Czech army, Dragon in the action-thriller Deadfish with Gary Oldman and Terence Stamp, in Rexpatriots, a satirical look at Prague as the new 'left bank' haven for artists after the fall of communism, and the hen-pecked husband hired to assassinate a grieving widow in the comic crime-thriller Shut-up And Shoot Me.
Not partial to a specific genre of film, Roden looks for the 'challenge' in a role and enjoys collaborating regularly with filmmakers who are open to new ideas and improvisation. He was working with director Irena Pavlaskova on Bestiar scheduled for a local release mid-April 2007. Previous work with Pavlaskova, includes the role of Milan, the weaker of the two in a relationship study titled Time of the Servants (Cas Sluhu), which won the director a Golden Camera – Special Mention Award in Cannes 1990 and the First Film Prize at Montreal the same year; a second collaboration with Pavlaskova as Jaromir in Corpus Delicti looks at three different relationships during the 1989 revolution that ended communism. The late 90s saw Roden reprise his role as Milan in Pavlaskova's sequel A Time of Debts (Cas dluhu). Roden's role as Miroslav in the 2000 archetypal tragedy Victims and Murders (Obeti a vrazi) exploring incest between half-siblings for first time director Andrea Sedlackova earned him a Czech Lion Best Actor nomination.
Other Czech Lion nominations include Best Actor for his role as Krystof in Petr Vaclav's Parallel Worlds (Paralelní svety), which explores the enigma of adultery and Best Actor for his portrayal of the father of a desperately lonely boy in Melancholic Chicken (Kure melancholik), Jaroslav Brabec's cinematic rollercoaster that captures both the joy and sadness of life.
The lead role in Don Gio directed by brothers Michal and Simon Caban earned Roden much critical attention. Best described as a post-modern experiment, the film juxtaposes past and present while exploring the complexity of time and the eternal struggle against evil - which is proposed as the energy of our existence. In another departure from traditional cinema, Roden played Captain Vobruba in director Frantisek Brabec's The King Ubu (Kral Ubu) adapted from the 1896 Alfred Jarry play Ubu Roi, considered the theatrical precursor to the Absurdist movement. The film is full of mystical references and won 3 Czech Lions, with Roden receiving a Czech Lion nomination for best supporting actor. A second time in front of Brabec's lense cast Roden as the dead lover in the Wedding Shirts (Svatební kosile) segment of the director's homage in seven parts to poet Karel Jaromir Erben's 1853 work entitled Wild Flowers (Kytice).
No stranger to the lighter side of fiction, Roden has interpreted several roles in family films and fairytales, including The Prince in About hapiness and beauty (O stestí a kráse), a popular local fable about happiness and beauty; Skeletona, a warlock in the Czech/German co-produced fantasy-adventure The Firebird (Pták Ohnivák), Goldeye in The cave of golden roses (Princeyna Fantaghiro) an Italian co-production about love, valor and magic spells.
Roden enjoys the total immersion in his craft that filming on location provides, "but my home and heart will always be in the Czech Republic where there is a long tradition of filmmaking," and he has ongoing theatre performances. He has worked on many stages throughout the country, and has been a member of Prague's prestigious National Theatre. Roden received the Alfréd Radok Award – voted annually by theatre critics - in 1998 for performing Bruno in Le Cocu Magnifique by Fernand Crommelynck. Anther notable stage role was Don Juan in Grabbe's Don Juan and Faust performed at the Divadlo v Dlouhé, a municipal repertoire theatre where Roden is a guest performer. He has also appeared in two plays with his brother Marian. Roden now divides his time between London, New York, Los Angeles and Prague and enjoys painting, raising horses and hanging out in his garden in his free time.
A controversial character, who works his way up from a warrior in wars against Turks to the palatine – the most powerful man of Hungary right after the king. The acting of film Thurzo is dark and woven in secrets.
In the story he appears as a loyal friend of Nadasdy family, and later of widow Erzsebet herself. However, her nephew is Transylvanian Prince, which causes political conflicts – Thurzo's decided for Habsburgs' side. He has power goals and does not hesitate to cope with Nadasdys and Bathorys, although he has been getting on with them for many years. He longs for their huge property, and to get hold of it, he pretends he is Erzsebet's protector; but in secret he intrigues against her, trying to have her executed.